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Virtual CD Drive

Virtual CD Drive

In my opinion, this week’s download is really cool and I have a lot of information to give you, so I’m going to go through the description rather quickly so I can get down to the meat of the article.

Have you ever had a program that, even after you installed it, would not run without the disk in your PC? This used to be a common practice among software manufacturers as a method to discourage the illegal copying of their software. There is also the fact that the manufacturers of some software attempt to save the user disk space with larger programs. For instance, multimedia programs. Either way, it can be a little bit of a pain to go hunting down disks all the time just to run some child’s game or a print program. An even better reason than inconvenience is the fact that the disks are being handled all the time, which increases the likelihood of scratches and other damages that may happen to the disk.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to take all the raw data from an application disk and just put the whole thing on your hard drive so you never needed the program disk to run a program? Well, you’re in luck, because today, you can say goodbye to the software relay race and say hello to a better way of doing things.

This download is actually two programs that were created by two different software manufactures. They work together to create virtual images that you can use instead of physical disks. This is great! Not only do you not have to get up and search for disks, but there is also a lesser chance of anything happening to the disk. On top of all that, virtual drives, as they are called, actually can improve the performance of the application, because reading data off the hard drive is much faster than reading it from an optical disk (a CD or DVD drive, for example).

Okay, now that I have discussed the scenario and the concept of the article, let’s take a look at the procedure and the programs themselves that make this all possible. Since the creation of virtual drives is probably new to a lot of you, I recommend going out to the manufacturers Web sites for both ISO Recorder and Virtual Clone Drive to look through their detailed instructions for a more in depth explanation of the actual procedure.

It takes a program to create the disk image (or ISO file) and then another program to create the virtual CD drive so it can read the ISO file. (Look above in today’s quick tip for a definition of ISO).

ISO Recorder

In case the name didn’t tip you off, this is the application used to create the image of the soon to be installed program CD. Basically, the ISO Recorder grabs all the data from a CD or DVD disk in its raw form and saves it to a location on your PC. You can take this information and then either burn it to another CD or DVD or it can be “mounted” and read by a virtual drive program. That is what I am discussing today. The process can take a little bit of time, but it’s very simple. The ISO Recorder is really a shell extension rather than a full blown program, so there is no start up icon to run the program. Instead, you simply right click the disk in your My Computer folder and it will show up as a menu option.

The procedure for creating a usable ISO file of a disk is very easy too. After you have installed the ISO Recorder, put the desired disk in the drive that you would like to create the image of. Stop any sort of autorun or installation that may come up and then open up your My Computer folder from the Start menu. From the My Computer menu, you should see an icon that represents the CD/DVD drive in your PC with the program disk inserted. Right click on that disk and choose “Create Image from CD” from the menu. There are only a couple of options: which drive letter (leave this one alone) and the location. For the location, choose somewhere on your PC that will be easy to find. I created a folder in the My Documents folder and called it “My ISO.” Once the procedure is done, it is time to go to the second half of the procedure.

Virtual Clone Drive

This is the program that can actually read the program in its raw ISO format by creating a virtual CD/DVD drive and virtually loading this ISO file as if it were an actual program disk. That may seem strange to a few of you, but it’s not that difficult. After you see it in action once or twice, you’ll totally understand how it works.

Okay, back to business. The Virtual Clone Drive program is very simple to install and the program itself has very few options. When the install is complete, you will notice that there is an icon in the My Computer folder that looks like a lamb’s head. This is your virtual drive. It shows up as if it were a real physical CD ROM and that’s how you should conceptualize it.

Now, everything is in place. You have your ISO Recorder to rip the information off the perspective disk and to save it to your PC and you have your Virtual Clone Drive to read the file as if it were the actual CD. With this in mind, I’m going to run through the complete instructions on how to do this. if you still don’t understand or would just like some further explanation, I have provided links at the bottom of this article that should provide you with all the information you need.

How To Create and Read ISO Files in a Virtual Drive

1.) With both programs installed (ISO Recorder and Virtual Clone Drive) on your PC, locate the program disk for the program you would like to make an image of and insert it into your CD ROM drive. Stop it from running or installing

2.) Go to Start, My Computer and right click the CD ROM with the program disk in it. Then choose “Create Image from CD” from the list.

3.) In the option window, choose where to store the ISO file. (I made a folder in the My Computer folder called “My ISO”). Then select Next.

4.) You will see a progress meter appear when this is finished. (This can take a few minutes). When that’s done, the process of creating the ISO file is over.

5.) Now, we need to install the program using the virtual drive. To do this, go to Start, My Computer and then you should see the icon for the Virtual Clone Drive. Right click on this and choose Mount, which basically means load the ISO file (as you would a CD into the drive).

6.) From the Mount options window, locate the ISO file you just created and choose Open to load the image.

7.) From here, you should notice that icon name change for the virtual drive. It will change to the name or abbreviation of the program disk it loaded. Now, you can run the program normally without the use of the physical disk. Pretty neat, don’t you think?!

Note: If you would like to use the Virtual Clone Drive for a program, you must initially install it using the Virtual Clone Drive. Meaning, you can’t install the program using the normal method and then use the Virtual Clone Drive to run it. This means that if you have already installed a program and would like to use the virtual drive, you are going to have to uninstall or reinstall the program using the Virtual Clone Drive. Hope you enjoy!

Download Resources:

ISO Recorder

Virtual Clone Drive

~ Chad Stelnicki